Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Stories, Tristi Pinkston

Today's guest for Saturday Stories is published author Tristi Pinkston. According to her website she is the wearer of many hats. Just a few of those are: author, editor, homeschooler, wife, mother, Scout leader and headless chicken. 

Tristi is truly an amazing woman. I would like to encourage anyone reading this post to head over to her self-titled blog Tristi Pinkston to learn more about her (but not until you've read this post). While you're there make sure to check out the link to her official website.

Enough rattling on my part, let's learn more about our special guest!

Q--Would you please share some background with us. Some fun facts about your family, childhood, etc?

A--I’m the youngest of four girls. I moved around all over the place as a child – my dad was a Xerox technician and he was transferred frequently.  I’ve moved probably twenty-five times in my life. I was homeschooled all the way through, and now homeschool my own four children.  I’ve been married for fifteen years to my best friend.  Doesn’t that sound funny?  Okay, let’s rephrase.  My husband, to whom I’ve been married for fifteen years, is my best friend.

Q--You have an amazing background in the LDS writing world. Would you please share your journey from picking up the pen to becoming published to now?

A--Well, I first picked up my pen at age five.  I wrote an engrossing story called “Sue the Dog.”  Illustrated it, too.  Then at eight, I wrote my first poem.  My mom decided it was brilliant and started planning my first book launch party.  From there I did the whole teenage angst depressing poetry thing, tried my hand at fantasy (it didn’t work) and decided to give it a rest.  But then I got the idea for my first novel, “Nothing to Regret,” which came to me by way of a dream.  I wrote it, sent it off, and was asked for a rewrite.  I didn’t hear back for a long time after I sent in the second version – in fact, I literally had a child while I was waiting.  Then it was a no.  I sent it somewhere else, they said yes, but they asked for money to help fund the publishing.  We were unemployed at the time, so that was a no.  I finally did a mass submission, sent it to everyone I could think of, and that’s how I found Granite, who published my first two books, “Nothing to Regret” and “Strength to Endure.”

After those two books with Granite, I had difficulty placing my third book, “Season of Sacrifice,” which is the true story of my great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Perkins, who engineered the passage through the Hole in the Rock in southern Utah.  I ran into some difficulties because the book contains polygamy – it’s a true story, and I couldn’t just take that part out.  I self-published it with the help of a good friend, BJ Rowley.  I then published “Agent in Old Lace” with Cedar Fort, and the following year, “Secret Sisters” with Valor.  My sixth book, “Dearly Departed,” will be coming out with Walnut Springs in January.

Q--Would you please share any awards you've won, books (or short stories) published?

“Nothing to Regret,” Granite Publishing, 2002
“Strength to Endure,” Granite Publishing, 2004
“Season of Sacrifice,” Golden Wings, 2008
“Agent in Old Lace,” Cedar Fort, 2009
“Secret Sisters,” Valor Publishing Group, 2010

I also had a short story published in LDS Publisher’s Christmas anthology, “Stolen Christmas.”  My story is titled “Arrows to Heaven,” and it won an award on LDS Publisher’s blog that year.
In 2007, I was awarded a certificate in the Publication category by League of Utah Writers for “Strength to Endure.”

Q--Who is your publisher and how did you choose them? 

A--I am currently with Walnut Springs.  I was looking for a publisher who would pick me up mid-series and with whom I could have a good working relationship.  I feel very blessed to have met the people of Walnut Springs.

Q--What have you done to help improve your writing talent? Any advice?

A--Lots and lots of reading, both of books in my chosen genres and books on writing.  Studying the craft of other writers is always an important step to take when learning how to write.  I’ve attended writers conferences, asked a lot of questions, my best friend, and I’m always seeking ways to improve and grow.  It’s a never-ending process.

Q--Computer or Notebook?

A--I wrote my first novel in a notebook, but it took so long to transcribe that I’ve just gone straight to computer ever since.

Q--What is the strangest thing, person, place, or event that has inspired your writing?

A--The idea for “Secret Sisters” came about really late one night while chatting with my husband.  We were both so tired, we were hyper, and started tossing ideas back and forth.  Amazingly enough, the next morning, it still seemed like a good idea.

Q--Would you please share a story about writing with us?

A--The three little ladies in my “Secret Sisters Mysteries” series are very real to me, and sometimes they talk in my head.  I was at the grocery store one day when a voice came over the loudspeaker.  “Grocery stocker, line one.” Suddenly one of my characters was in my right ear, freaking out because she thought there was a stalker.  I laughed my head off right in the middle of the produce section.

Q--At what point did you begin considering yourself a bona-fide writer?

A--There are days when I still question it – we all have doubts, don’t we?  But honestly, when I held my first book and looked at the cover for the first time – that was a metamorphosis.  That’s when things started to become real for me.

Q--Of all the characters you have ever written, who is your favorite and why?

A--Ida Mae.  Each of my characters has a place in my heart, but Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy came to life for me in ways I’d never experienced before.  They walk around with me all the time. Their personalities are so intense, so vibrant.  I can’t just leave them at the computer when I’m done writing for the day.

Q--Do you have a certain process you go through when you write or do you just wait for the "muse" to come out of hiding?

A--I don’t try to force it.  If I don’t have ideas that day, I don’t write.  I’ll more than make up for it when the ideas strike again.  It’s easy to put too much pressure on yourself, thinking that you should be more productive than you are.  I’ve found that if I ride the rollercoaster of ideas, I’m done when I’m supposed to be done.

Q--How do you balance your writing and your family?

A--I often don’t.  My house isn’t very clean, I only really cook once in a while, and my kids have been taught pretty early to be self-sufficient as far as getting their own breakfast, getting bathed and dressed, etc. But I’ve been writing long enough that this is the only life they’ve known, so for them, it’s totally normal.  My husband really steps in and helps when things get overwhelming. But my kids know I’d do anything in the world for them, including throwing myself in front of a bus to save them.  That balances out some of my other failings as a mother … such as running out of gas while taking my daughter somewhere the other day.  That was an adventure.

Q--I know you are one of the founders of LDStorymakers and the Whitney Awards. Would you please share how those to events came about and anything else about them you'd like people to know?

A--I was invited to join LDStorymakers when my first book came out, and I was the 6th official member.  I got involved right away and formed deep friendships.  I was blessed to be asked to head up the first annual Storymakers writers conference, and did so for two years.  I also served as a vice president of the organization, my term having recently come to an end.  It’s a writers guild for LDS authors who are looking for like-minded persons to share in their thoughts and feelings.  You can learn about the joining requirements and who our members are by visiting here.

My involvement with the Whitneys has been limited to serving on the Academy of voters and presenting an award at last year’s ceremony.  The Whitneys are awards that are designed to celebrate the very best in LDS fiction.  You can nominate any book you feel is worthy of the prize, and then it goes through a vetting system of judges and voters who are professionals in the industry.  You can learn more about it here.

Q--If you could offer an aspiring author any advice, what would it be?

A--Sit down, shut up, and write.  Then sit down, shut up, and edit.  Listen to those around you who want to help you make your book the best it can be.  Don’t whine and complain when you’re asked to rewrite – just do it.  The whiners are not the winners.  

Thanks, Tristi!

Next week my guest will be published author Kaylee Baldwin. You don't want to miss it!

I'm still looking for volunteers for Saturday Stories! Make sure to drop a comment and let me know if you're interested. 


  1. So good to finally be officially introduced to the amazing Tristi Pinkston!! I hear her name everywhere. I actually saw her from afar at LTUE last year but was too shy to introduce myself!!

  2. Thanks! I don't think there's a Mormon writer out there who doesn't know tristi and it's very nice to hear from someone whose characters are as real as mine seem to be. Thanks tristi

  3. Eeep! I LOVE you TRISTI PINKSTON!!!!





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